Avira, the German anti-virus firm founded by Tjark Auerbach in the 1980s, has decided to kill off its Linux anti-virus product.
The company, which used to be known as H+BEDV, says that it is no longer actively selling or developing its Linux-based anti-virus products, but will continue to deliver detection and engine updates until mid 2016.
In a knowledgebase article, the company explains that the reason is a commercial one. Avira concentrates on the consumer and small business market, where Windows and Mac OS X are the dominant operating systems.
That’s fair enough. Although a respected player in the industry, Avira isn’t the biggest anti-virus company in the world, and it has to make careful decisions about where best to focus its resources and expertise.
What I’m worried about though, is the message this could send some people. In particular, those who live in denial about Linux malware.
Linux zealots, don’t be too quick popping those champagne corks. You would be wrong to take this as an admission by the anti-virus industry that there is no malware problem on the Linux platform.
Sure, there is much much less Linux-specific malware than there is Windows malware, or Mac malware or even Android malware. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist at all.
Earlier this year, for instance, Symantec reported that the high profile attack against South Korean computer systems incorporated a module that was designed to remotely wipe Linux systems, wiping out the /kernel, /usr, /etc, and /home directories.
And way back in 2008, SophosLabs reported on the continuing prevalence of Linux/RST-B, which had been infected systems since at least early 2002. Experts at Sophos had discovered thousands of Linux systems where the malware was running as root.
There are a good number of other examples of Linux-based malware detailed on the websites of security researchers if you care to hunt around for them.
Even if you aren’t worried about your Linux computers being affected by malware, you might want to consider whether you are doing everything you can to prevent malware taking advantage of your systems to spread further. For that reason, a Linux anti-virus product might be a good choice for your toolbox.